|Violet C Hasenpfeffer|
While perusing on Etsy (okay who doesn’t do this!) I found these great dolls & stuffed animals from the Hasenpfeffer store. Even though I had no idea what the word meant, I loved how it sounded and the dolls are just the cutest thing I’ve seen in awhile. Guess what Annabelle is getting for her birthday this year!
Daniela Huber-Shelton sources her material from a variety of old stock fabric stores & some thrift stores. That means buying one of these dolls will helps to save the planet, supports a handmade craft, and makes you the best gift giver ever! Who wouldn’t want that! They have a great variety of dolls, cuddly sheep, and a googly eyed bear that are just adorable. If you are interested, mention the RockStew blog and she’ll give you a discount.
|Little People Doll C Hasenpfeffer|
RS: Where do you hail from?
DHS: I’m from Winterthur, Switzerland. It’s about 17 miles (27 kilometers for the rest of the world) northeast of Zurich. I moved to the US—southern California to be specific—in 2001. My husband and I got married in ’02 and we fled to a little island in Washington State in ’06. I’m a graphic designer by trade and making critters gives me an outlet to use my design skills in a more dynamic way.
|Sheepling C Hasenpfeffer|
RS:How did you get into crafting?
DHS: Two things besides my design background led me to crafting. My mom sewed and knitted a lot. She made most of my outfits when I was a kid. She also taught me to sew. The other isn’t so obvious. I have a vintage fabric fetish of sorts and California life only made it worse: the perpetual good weather made garage sales and swap meets a weekend ritual all year long. At one point I realized I had more fabric than I knew what to do with—at least that’s how it seemed at the time. So once I decompressed after our relocation, I started to make things from a sort of catalog that I’d formed in my head over the years.
RS: What kind of things inspire you creatively?
|Googly-Eyed Bear C Hasenpfeffer|
DHS: I draw inspiration from numerous things. Well-loved stuffed critters for example. I figure something has to be pretty good for someone to love the fur off of it. I’d never consent to plagiarize a design but it would be foolish to ignore the traits that make a critter so squeezable. So I might like the way the arms and legs meet a body enough to copy it, but I’ll do it in my own way. I also can’t resist a challenge. For example I think people miss the point of the Steiner/Waldorf dolls. At least the way I see it, the point was to give the dolls simple expressions so they could reflect a kid’s imagination. But people who make them seem to get caught up in this idea that the dolls have to look like dough-faced artifacts from the Wiemar Republic. So I’mworking on one that honors the idea but updates the shape. I don’t know if I want to enter the saturated Waldorf market but I’ll likely apply what I learned to another original design. There’s no such thing as meaningless work when you’re creating.
RS: What kind of business advice would you offer our readers?
|Spring Shirt & Jeans C Hasenpfeffer|
DHS: Learn how business actually works. It’s the ugly, sausage-making part of the task but you have to learn how to manage expenses and balance cost with profit if you want to stay solvent. And learn your market (your buyer’s demographics, the prevailing prices, expenses) before you enter it; it’s better to realize there’s little opportunity to succeed in a market before you enter it. And don’t undercut your work. People frequently undercharge. People won’t buy top-tier work if they think it’s cheap. And most importantly, make friends with everybody, especially those who copy you. Friends are less likely to rip off your designs. Plus you might make a great friend in the process.
RS: I love the name … Hasenpfeffer, where and/or why did you come up with that name?
DHS: Hasenpfeffer is actually a traditional Germanfricassee—it literally means peppered wild rabbit. But more specificallyit’s one of our bunny’s names. Due to a particular television program our full name, Hasenpfeffer Incorporated, is instantly recognizable. By happy coincidence it wasn’t trademarked or copyrighted, at least for our purposes.
RS:Why do you upcycle?
|Spring Dress C Hasenpfeffer|
DHS: The upcycling thing was a result of our material sources. When we started we bought a lot of thrift-store clothing that wouldn’t sell for whatever reason. We specifically looked for beautiful materials locked up in ugly clothing. So we took it upmarket by recycling it hence the name. It’s really just the second type of recycling, the other being the reduction of a material to a newer, lesser-grade material. Ultimately it was our way to keep this wonderful material from disappearing the the US textile mills that made them did. While volume prevents us from extracting materials from thrift-store clothing, we still honor the preservation idea by buying a lot of old-stock materials. You wouldn’t believe how much old fabric is still on the shelves of dying fabric stores.
RS: How do you want people to view your stuff?
DHS: We want people to see our stuff as toys. We cringe a little when people tell us they’re going to put their new friend on a shelf or in a glass case. It’s like buying a car just to look at it in the garage; it simply misses the point. It undermines the amount of work it takes to make them feel good and last long.